Health is always an issue in any community, in any family and for any person. Historically the rural community has faced numerous basic health challenges some we hear much about some we don’t; the issue of malaria, the disease borne by mosquitoes; the issue of poor water quality and the issue of poor medical support for pre and postnatal women have been well documented and even with all of the efforts they still exist. Infant mortality rates in the rural environment continued to be considerably higher than in other more urban areas which may have better infrastructure and health services.
I want to share here one or two other health concerns, which while not as well known are as destructive as those previously mentioned these two environmental concerns have their greatest opportunity to damage health among the elderly and very young, they are basic sanitation and air pollution within the homes. Unsafe latrines remain one of the major health obstacles and dangerous areas for the elderly traditionally constructed of a pit in the ground covered with wood over time the wood rots becomes very unstable and collapses if repairs are not made in time this results in extremely dangerous circumstance of an elderly person falling into a latrine of human waste one of the efforts in the community is to identify problems which need intervention and to help construct a better structure using concrete floor this is an ongoing project which has been accomplished for many because of the willingness of the community to work together and help others. The other health issue air pollutants within the family home I recognized as the greatest potential to infant and young children’s health issues in the rural community, this is even a greater danger than malaria. Two ingredients used in daily life, used in confined areas, cause a significant issue of air quality. Kerosene used in lamps gives off a very pungent caustic and dangerous smoke, the regular burning of wood for fire’s to cook also produces the same type of air pollution traditionally the children have stayed with the women the women have stayed in the kitchen usually with little or no light kerosene lamps in the wood burning stove are used in conjunction especially if there is a group of women working together.
Currently we are making efforts to introduce what is called a rocket stove into the daily life of the average rural villager, this is a simple cookstove which by design more thoroughly burns fuel which results in better heat from less fuel and less residual pollutants from unburned fuel. These “rocket stoves” are connected to the efforts to provide solar and wind turbine energy, it is just another part of the constant effort to recognize potential and to work towards implementation as part of a self-sustaining economy and lifestyle.